Did God forsake Jesus on the cross?
"Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour.
And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is,
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" (Matthew 27:45-46)
This verse from scripture clearly indicates that the Son of God felt alone in those dark hours. His words however, spoken amidst his sufferings, weren't random utterances. The Lord quoted from Psalm 22:
"My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from helping me, and from the words of my groaning?"
If we continue to read the same Psalm, we'll realize that these prophetic words truly point to Jesus. At the same time they emphasize that the suffering servant of God firmly counted on the presence of His father. Think about it: Why pray if God had really turned away and would not listen?
"They make a division of my robes among them, by the decision of chance they take my clothing.
Do not be far from me, O Lord: O my strength, come quickly to my help."
"You who have fear of the Lord, give him praise; all you seed of Jacob, give him glory; go in fear of him,
all you seed of Israel. For he has not been unmoved by the pain of him who is troubled;
or kept his face covered from him; but he has given an answer to his cry." (Psalm 22:23-24)
Jesus had clearly predicted that the Father would not leave him alone in the hour of death:
"Jesus therefore said, When ye have lifted up the Son of man,
then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself,
but as the Father taught me, I speak these things.
And he that sent me is with me; he hath not left me alone;
for I do always the things that are pleasing to him." (John 8:28-29)
"Jesus answered them, Do ye now believe?
Behold, the hour cometh, yea, is come, that ye shall be scattered,
every man to his own, and shall leave me alone:
and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me."
Paul's words fit in as well:
"But all things are of God, who has made us at peace with himself through Christ,
and has given to us the work of making peace;
That is, that God was in Christ making peace between the world and himself,
not putting their sins to their account,
and having given to us the preaching of this news of peace. "
(2nd Corinthians 5:18-19)
Yes, it's true: God did not prevent the suffering of His son. But He wasn't absent. Yes, there was darkness, but God kept watching over His Son. Jesus felt forsaken, but he wasn't alone. Everything happened according to God's plan. Jesus endured the punishment for the sins of mankind: suffering, pain and death. At the same time he was the guiltless sacrificial lamb (1. Peter 1:19). At no time did Jesus count as "guilty" before God, He always did what was pleasing to God. That's why the Father stayed by His side.
It's different with us. Because everyone makes wrong decisions in his life, the result is a separation between God and man (Isaiah 59:1-2). This condition of being guilty cannot be inherited, nor can we blame someone else for what is our fault (Genesis 3:12-13; Ezekiel, ch. 18). Yet because the suffering servant fulfilled all of God's demands through his unwavering obedience even unto death, God can forgive us once for all based on this perfect sacrifice (Isaiah, ch. 53). And because Jesus rose from death, we also can walk in newness of life (Romans 1:4; 6:3-6).
People who live in a restored relationship with God, know Him to be at their side, even during the darkest moments of life. They aren't spared from suffering but they know that the Lord is with them. The apostle Paul, not a stranger to suffering himself, testifies this:
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or anguish,
or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
Even as it is written, "For thy sake we are killed all the day long;
We were accounted as sheep for the slaughter".
Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.
For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels,
nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers,
nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us
from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.